Skip to comments.Man opens fire inside Knoxville church; one dead, at least five injured
Posted on 07/27/2008 12:27:38 PM PDT by Alex Murphy
Multiple people have suffered gunshot wounds in what witnesses describe as a mass shooting inside a church in West Knoxville Sunday morning.
The shootings happened at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church on Kingston Pike.
A witness who spoke to 10 News said police had arrived and one person was being detained at the scene.
A children's production of "Annie" was taking place as part of the normal Sunday service at the time of the shooting, the witness, who is a member of the church, said. The gunman walked into a packed sanctuary and opened fire.
The number of people shot and the extent of their injuries has not been confirmed, but the witness said he saw at least five people shot.
Church members heard a loud boom during the church service, which began around 10:15 a.m., the witness said. Several other loud booms followed, and the witness said the gunman seemed to be shooting randomly across a row of people. Two congregants tackled the gunman, he said.
Many people fled to the Second Presbyterian Church after the shooting, and that church was placed on lockdown, according to a 10 News crew at the scene. People have since been allowed to return to the Unitarian church building, where police are questioning witnesses.
Steve Drevik, a member of the TVUU Church spoke to media outside the church building.
He says the suspect is now in custody.
Drevik says the shooting happened during a regular service, as children of the church were performing music from Annie for parishioners.
A man with long blond hair, who appeared to be in his 40s, walked into the sanctuary and opened fiire with a shotgun, shooting indiscriminately.
At least six or seven people were hit by the gunfire. They have been transported to UT Medical Center. Two are believed to be in serious condition.
No children are believed to have been hit by the gunfire.
Some of the children were taken next door to Second Presbyterian Church for shelter.
Numerous KPD officers are on the scene.
Steve Drevik says the suspect isn't believed to have any connection to the church.
More information about the church can be found at their website: www.TVUUC.org
Sources say church members tackled the suspect, holding him until police arrived.
KPD says the call came in at 10:18 am. The first officer arrived at 10:21 am. The suspect was taken into custody at 10:22 am. Police believe he is the lone suspect.
KPD officials says Mayor Haslam has been made aware of the event, and a press conference will be held later today.
Becky Thompson with UT Medical Center confirms to NBC News that seven people were transported from the church to UTMC for medical treatment.
WBIR journalists on the scene are told that six of the seven individual transported to the hospital were victims of gunshot wounds. One of the seven transported suffered an ankle injury.
According to church member Steve Drevik, three congregants tackled the suspect, ending his attack. One of the three was longtime TVUUC member and UT History Professor, John Bohstedt.
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam has issued a statement: "TODAY KNOXVILLE SUFFERED A TRAGEDY. OUR THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS ARE WITH THE VICTIMS AND THEIR FAMILIES AND THE CHURCH COMMUNITY."
Knoxville City Councilman Joe Hultquist tells WBIR that one victim in the church attack has died, and five others are in critical condition.
Church member Anne Strange says church members want the Knoxville community to know that congregant John Bohstedt, who helped tackle the gunman, was unharmed in the attack.
Dr. John Bohstedt spoke to WBIR's John Becker about the shooting. Bohstedt helped tackle the shooter, and hold him until police arrived. Bohstedt's own granddaughter was performing in the musical "Annie," that children were performing at the front of the sanctuary when the shooting began.
"This was a day the church was looking forward to for a long time and it turned into a nightmare," Bohstedt said. Bohstedt said the gunman had no connection to the church that he knows of, and he has no clue as to a motive.
"Just another crazy, random church shooting," added an emotional Bohstedt.
The Blount County Foothills Unitarian Universalist congregation will be holding an open gathering from 2-5 pm at the Habitat for Humanity Bldg at 1017 Hampshire Drive in Maryville (near Foothills Mall). The public and media are invited.
This is a special called gathering in response to the shooting.
Church member Amy Broyles was inside the church with her family at the time of the shooting.
She says she was with her toddler inside the church's glass-walled "quiet room" - set up for mothers and babies - at the back of the sanctuary, while her husband and other children were inside the church. One of her children was performing in the musical performance at the front of the sanctuary.
She says she heard a loud "boom," and looked out the glass to see her husband, mother in law and one of her children dive under a pew. She then looked to the side and saw an older man, perhaps 65 years old, raising what appeared to be a shotgun to his shoulder and firing into the church.
She then grabbed her baby and blocked the doorway to the quiet room in case the man were to attempt to get into the quiet room. She heard another gunshot or two, and then heard several men tackling the shooter right outside the quiet room door. One of the men was her husband, Jamie Parkey.
She then heard calls for everyone to get out of the sanctuary, so she and other women ran from the quiet room, and joined other church members making their exit from the church. She was able to locate her other children almost immediately.
On her way out, she had to step over one male victim - also just outside the quiet room - who appeared to be mortally wounded. Broyles identifies that victim as Greg McKendry.She also had to walk past several other gunshot victims. Many church members, including children were covered with blood splatters from the gunshot victims.
Broyles says that although she only heard a couple of gunshots, she saw many shotgun cartridges on the floor around the shooter after he was tackled, leading her to believe he came to the church with a lot of ammunition.
She says she was tremendously impressed with the calm, effective way that church members with medical training responded to the needs of the gunshot victims, treating them at the scene until help arrived.
She also praises KPD officers who responded, saying they showed great compassion and calm in the face of a chaotic situation.
I presume none of the “parishioners” had a gun.
God Bless the brave souls who tackled the gunman. The Flight 93 response is alive and well in America.
You might want to request that a mod pull your post.
Well, it's a shooting, it's crazy, it may or may not be random, but I'm not sure it was at a church.
Once I figure out why Annie was part of the regular Sunday service I will be able to tell if I am upset or not.
“A children’s production of “Annie” was taking place as part of the normal Sunday service at the time of the shooting,”
Yes, I wondered too...
I dont remember a manger scene or a crucifiction re-enactment...
But “The Son will come out/back tomorrow, Bet your bottom dollar”
Folks I don’t agree with the teaching of that church as such but some need to remember this. A sizable portion of the Founding Fathers of the United States followed many of that churches doctorines teachings. At least two were our first presidents. One was Washington. One even wrote their Bible. That mans name was Thomas Jefferson. They did not deserve this.
No - just those posts that quoted your original comment.
Apparently there are many “sickos” on this story today, where opinion is not valued, no matter what it is..
I also heard that the man who was killed, was trying to block the gunman from shooting at the kids. His family can be proud of his heroism.
It’s a sick person to start shooting during a children’s play taking place in a church. Prayers for everybody affected by this.
Prayers up for all affected by this tragedy.
(Leaving aside the question of to what extent a UU body can be referred to as a church.)